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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Briefing on Syria

2023-03-23 15:40

Mr. President,

I thank Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and Acting Director Tareq Talahma for their respective briefings. 

The humanitarian situation in northwest Syria has been tugging at the heartstrings of the international community since the powerful earthquake struck on February 6. The Syrian Government has opened up Bab Al-Salam and Al-Ra’ee crossing points, which greatly improved the efficiency of the transfer of supplies. China welcomes this, and appreciates the positive interaction and cooperation between the Syrian Government and the UN, as well as the effective coordination work of the various UN humanitarian agencies. 

The next phase of humanitarian assistance to Syria should be more organically integrated with the post-disaster reconstruction, helping the Syrian side restore infrastructure, strengthen and rebuild housing, and maintain water and power supply systems. To this end, it is important to continue promoting relevant early recovery projects. The Secretariat should consult closely with all parties and actively make plans. It is also necessary to incorporate as soon as possible the clearance of explosive remnants of war into early recovery projects, so as to create a safe working environment for post-disaster reconstruction. 

At the same time. it should be noted that three obstacles need to be overcome in order to further improve the humanitarian relief work in Syria. 

First, over the past month, no progress whatsoever has been made in the cross-line relief operations in northwest Syria. The Secretariat should make great efforts to promote cross-line relief work and report problems to the Council in a timely manner in search of solutions. 

Second, as an important civilian infrastructure and a key hub for the transfer of humanitarian supplies, the safe operation of the Aleppo airport should be guaranteed. We register our concern over another Israeli airstrike at the airport yesterday, and we hope that nothing alike will happen again. The sovereignty and territory integrity of Syria should be respected.

Third, the countries concerned announced a temporary relaxation or suspension of unilateral sanctions against Syria after the earthquake. However, temporary measures cannot cover up the systemic damage caused by long-term unilateral sanctions. The countries concerned should immediately and unconditionally lift all illegal unilateral sanctions against Syria, and stop artificially exacerbating the humanitarian disaster.

Mr. President, 

With regard to the political process in Syria, China welcomes Special Envoy Pedersen’s extensive engagement with all parties on the implementation of Resolution 2254 in line with the step-for-step approach. China supports the resumption of the constitutional committee meetings as soon as possible in accordance with the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned principle. We welcome the visit of the Syrian president to the UAE and the meeting between the two heads of state, as well as Tunisia’s consideration of restoring diplomatic relations with Syria. We look forward to positive outcomes coming out of the proposed meeting of the deputy foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, Turkiye, and Syria. We are confident that assistance from regional countries will be beneficial in providing a boost to the political settlement in Syria. We also call on more countries to act up to create a favorable external environment for the political settlement in Syria. 

Mr. President, 

At present, the security situation in Syria remains complex, and the international community must combat terrorism in all its manifestations in Syria with zero tolerance. Any attempt to exploit the terrorists for one’s own purposes will backfire and be counterproductive. Finally, we once again urge foreign forces to end all illegal military presence in Syria and to stop the plundering of Syria's natural resources. 

Thank you, President.

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